History

Origin of Orange Curacao

Browsing through some old newspapers I came a cross this article on the origin of Orange Curaçao (Kansas City Star - June 25, 1894). It is an interesting historical account of how orange Curaçao (spelled Curacoa in the article) or Triple Sec (Cointreau) came to be. The original grades of Curacao are detailed and the "green ribbon" variety deemed the best. The green ribbon is a reference… [Continue]

The Filby Cocktail

Acid Phosphate

The most popular drink in the world was once made using Acid Phosphate. Today, Coca-Cola no longer uses this unique ingredient, instead they have simplified their formulation by using phosphoric acid, which still makes it a phosphated soda, but not the classic version. The “phosphate drink” was the most popular… [Continue]

Mai Tai Cocktail Recipe

mai tai drink recipeThe Mai Tai is a very misunderstood cocktail. Many people think this is a tropical fruit juice cocktail, but the reality is that this is a very strong rum based drink. The confusion comes from a hotel in Hawaii that modified the original formula in the 1950's and… [Continue]

Manhattan Cocktail

The Manhattan is still widely regarded as one of the greatest cocktails ever created. Personally, a well made Manhattan is a cocktail I truly enjoy. It’s perfectly in balance, simple and as a guy I can drink this cocktail anywhere and not feel out of place. It’s also as strong as a properly made martini, but like the martini it started out differently. The martini is based on a… [Continue]

Manhattan Cocktail Redux

Recently I’ve been musing about the Manhattan Cocktail and with Woodford Reserve and Esquire Magazine launching the “Craft the Ultimate Manhattan” contest, it has given me an opportunity to put my thoughts to pixels. Why? Because the recent trend in Manhattans has been to make it the absolutely most flavourful… [Continue]

Peach Blow

Digging up old cocktails—or in this case fizz recipes—has led me to this interestingly named drink called the Peach Blow. The article is from the May 2nd, 1909 edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer. A reader asked for the recipe of the Peach Blow and the Lilac Fizz. The newspaper was happy to oblige. Over 100 years later, and right in the middle of peach season, I'm… [Continue]

Moral Suasion

A good drink can often be considered "moral 'suasion". A good one keeps you in your seat, but not by force, and a really good one can persuade you to happily open your wallet and order a second. When I came across this cocktail, in the 1873 Daily Picayune (New Orleans), it piqued my curiosity, partially because this was the very early years of the cocktail art, and it actually looked… [Continue]

Claret Cup

At one point in time Claret Punch was an immensely popular concoction. It was the punch of choice for parties and the drink most enjoyed by the British in the 1800's. Today, if you sauntered into a North American bar and asked for a claret cup, you'd be hard pressed to find a bartender that could make it, let alone one that knows what claret is. It's too bad because claret cup has a… [Continue]

Ramos Gin Fizz Cocktail

Ramos Gin FizzOn any given day, if I were offered a properly made Ramos Gin Fizz I would never turn it down. This is a drink with a long history, dating back to 1888 and a unique taste and consistency that is hard to find in almost any other drink. The trick to the Ramos Gin Fizz is… [Continue]

Wet Grave

An opportunity to present drink history to the bar community in New Orleans always inspires my creativity. With so many great bartenders and mixologists churning out great cocktails, my efforts are less public than they once were. I’ve eschewed the shotgun approach for the more refined sniper tactics. The Wet Grave is one of those bullseye cocktails that combines everything I love about drinks.… [Continue]

Bourbon

Here is an interesting article from the New Haven Register (August 18,1880) about how bourbon was made. It discuss both sweet mash and sour mash methods of making bourbon. It also lists a couple of laws I had never heard of before including the maximum amount of time for bourbon mash fermenting. I've transcribed the article, and back in 1880, it seems run on sentences were common.

[Continue]

Origin of the Word Cocktail

This topic has been debated a lot and nobody really knows where the word came from, but every once in a while somebody comes across an old newspaper article discussing this topic. Well, as I was researching through some archives of old newspapers, I came across a couple of articles discussing the origin of the word "cocktail". I decided to share them. The articles are interesting in that they are… [Continue]

Cocktail Origin Part III

The origin of the word “cocktail” is one of those persistent little mysteries that many people would like to solve, but information doesn’t come easily. I’ve looked at this a couple of times, basically putting my spin… [Continue]

Jamaica Ginger aka “Jake”

Last week Trevor Easter (bar manager of the Rickhouse in San Francisco) asked me a question about Jamaica Ginger for a cocktail that he was researching. It just happened that I did know a fair amount on the subject. While doing research for Fix the Pumps I came across some old recipes… [Continue]

Burdock Blood Bitters Ephemera

Digging through some historical ephemera, I found this interesting ad from the 1800s for Burdock Blood Bitters. It was recommended to treat the four greatest afflictions in America; dyspepsia, biliousness, constipation and sick headache. A little fibre in the American diet might have helped. Anyway, the illness isn't the part that gets you, it's the advertising imagery. On the ad page is… [Continue]

Parfait d’Amour

Valentines day is a wonderful commercial holiday. If the governments of the world wanted to fix the economy, they’d just make Valentines a week event and everything would be fixed. But alas, only Hallmark had that level of ingenuity. Flowers, chocolate, cards, diamonds and a dinner out now represent the modern definition of love, which is paid in one annual lump sum, due on February 14th.… [Continue]

Beverages De Luxe (1914)

Just prior to prohibition, a great little booklet was put out by The Wine and Spirit Bulletin called Beverages De Luxe. It is a collection of articles, and recipes, written by owners of distilleries and others in the business. Some of the contributors include George Brown (Brown & Foreman) and A.M. Hanauer (Hamburger Distillery, Pittsburgh, PA) among many others. Hanauer wrote… [Continue]

Abbott’s Bitters Quest

Tasting history is one of the more enjoyable aspects of classic cocktails, however many of those original ingredients have been lost to time. Abbott's bitters is one of those ingredients, and without it we really don't know how the original Manhattan tasted. Sure, there are those rare vintage bottles of Abbott's bitters floating around on eBay, but… [Continue]

Singapore Sling

Why Prohibition Didn’t Work

It's one of those often repeated debates that goes nowhere: Why didn't prohibition work? Both sides of the debate ante up and hences forth argue ad nauseum. So with the help of Google's Ngram Viewer I'm going to provide a simple, visual explanation of human nature and why prohibition failed. If this doesn't explain it, nothing will.

Google's Ngram… [Continue]

Age of Drugs

If you've read Fix the Pumps, you may have noticed that one of the reoccuring themes was the competition between saloons and pharmacies (bartenders and druggists) to hook the people on their tonics. Until 1906, when the Pure Food & Drugs Act was introduced, the local pharmacy / soda fountain had no restrictions on what they could… [Continue]

Detroit Soda Fountain

This photo is a great example of what a classic soda fountain / pharmacy looked like around 1910. The picture was taken by the Detroit Publishing Company around 1910, but no information was provided on where it was taken, though it assumed to be in Detroit. Sandy Levine of The Oakland bar in Detroit suggested that it looks similar to the space of the… [Continue]

Historical Drinking & Driving Ads

We often see drinking and driving as recent problem (last 30 years or so) however the deadly combination of alcohol and motor vehicles has been know for over a century. When cars became common place, it didn't take a genius to realize that driving while intoxicated resulted in serious consequences. One of the earliest observations came from Puck magazine in 1907 depicting the Demon Rum driving… [Continue]

Temperance Images from the 1800s

The temperance movement most likely started shortly after alcohol was first consumed. Chronic alcohol consumption is a bad thing, and during the 1800s it was out of control in many places. To paraphrase Newton's third law of motion: for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Where there was a drinking problem, the Temperance Leagues intervened. Unlike the glossy TV shows of… [Continue]

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Twitter Updates

The Art of Drink bitters recipe database is fixed and I've added a few new ones. bit.ly/xbitter
.@EatThisNotThat Hydration while drinking simply requires more water between alcoholic drinks. Very simple, but highly effective.
.@EatThisNotThat that study is from 1970, it's really dated and old. Trying searching Pubmed ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed
@DeanoTheMachino @DavidWondrich mason jar cocktails are like fine dining with paper plates.
.@EatThisNotThat potassium salts don't keep you hydrated and fructose doesn't help metabolize alcohol. #badinfo